This is a tough reaction to write, coming on the heels of my thoughts on Reaper's Gale a week ago. I've actually been attempting to read Return of the Crimson Guard (RotCG henceforth) for 3 weeks now, and just can't get into it. I know its a long book, but I'm around 250 pages in, which is 25%...so it should have done something to reel me in by this point. Unfortunately, it hasn't. In fact, combined with my slight disappointment with Reaper's Gale, RotCG might force me to take an extended Malazan break. RotCG just isn't doing it for me in many ways. I don't find the overall writing as engaging as Erikson, and the language just feels clunky in (many) places. I'm not interested in any of the characters thus far (though Kyle has potential), and the story seems even harder to understand than the Erikson books. The latter surprises me, but Erikson has improved on that area as the series has progressed. Maybe it is my lack of interest that is the root of my confusion...I might not be reading carefully enough to keep everything in my head. And I will admit I have bounced around in several different books while trying to read RotCG.
So, I am wondering if i just need to take a break from Malazan. Or if I should just skip the ICE books and read the 10 Erikson books. As I have mentioned, I would like to finish the "core" books to gain a feeling of accomplishment, considering I have spent a good part of the last 18+ months reading the first 7 Erikson books. On the other hand, I would like to give myself a chance to enjoy the ending of the series. Maybe some time away would do me good, even if it bugs me to be so close to finally wrapping up the main series. I know I will miss some plot elements if I read the ICE books separately (after reading all 10 Erikson books), but after struggling with them so much, I think it would be better to try them at a later date.
At this point, I'm not sure what I will do. You might see an "Initial Reaction" post for Toll the Hounds in the next few days. Or you might see me talk about some indie books. At least once a year I make a pledge to read some of the popular indie books that show up on the Kindle fantasy bestseller lists, and usually within a day or two I abandon that pledge. I've been feeling the itch to try some indie works again, but given my horrible track record with my promises to cover them here....who knows if I'll actually read any of the indie samples I sent to my Kindle earlier today.